Another Visit to Montana in 2010: The sites of Montana, Part II

The rest of our trip to Montana in 2010, would be to enjoy the sites and attend the wedding that would take place in Bozeman.

Our first stop, after leaving Miles City, was at the Rosebud Rest Area. It was on a cliff above the Yellowstone River and the view was incredible.

Rosebud Rest Stop

Rosebud Rest Stop and the Yellowstone River

I wanted to visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield again, even though I had seen it on the last trip in 2003.  It is really very interesting and they are now featuring both sides of the conflict.

http://www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm  Here is what I wrote in my travel journal about that experience:

We got their about 1 pm.  The first thing was to go and hear the ranger talk.  This time it was a young lady who I think was new. After, we then went into the visitor center and they said a film was to be shown soon. I looked a look at the gift shop which had a lot of books on the history of the battle, Custer and the Indians.  We found seats for the film.  It was an interesting presentation of the battle giving a little more detail and showing the areas that they were talking about so it added to the Ranger talk.  Once that was over we went through the museum which featured some information and artifacts from Custer’s life donated by his wife who lived 54 years after his death.  What the soldiers worn and used and the mix of their heritage.  Some could not speak English they were new immigrants.  There was information about battle tactics. They had a machine in the back that had selections on the different groups that were involved in the battle and you could search them if you new a name.  They were the soldiers, the officers, the Indians and more.  The had a collection of the guns that were used by the soldiers. 

Ranger Talk at Little Bighorn Battlefield

Ranger Talk at Little Bighorn Battlefield

We then walked up to Last Stand Hill where Custer was killed along with his two brothers Tom and Buster and all the others in his outfit.  He is not there anymore having his remains placed at Annapolis. Others are buried in a mass grave under the big monument.  When they buried them at the time of the battle they did not have the proper tools to bury them and the graves were shallow.  An archaeological dig was done in the 1980’s after a fire had burned the area and they found a lot of artifacts like bullets and other things.  They could track a soldier by his bullets. There is still a lot of conjecture about the battle and the maps show that with the dotted lines. We visited the Indian monument.  They are adding tombstones for the Indian’s in a different color which is good.  They are honoring the Indian’s and trying to show both sides of the battle at this time.  I think that is a good thing.

Indian Exhibit Little Bighorn Battlefield

Indian Exhibit Little Bighorn Battlefield

We then returned to the car to take the road to the other sites which defines the movements of the officer by the name of Reno.  You drive for 5 miles along the ridge through private land.  The rain was upon us by that time with a big cloud and it was not fun so we had to stay in the car.  We arrived at the other end of the road and the rain opened up by then with the big cloud right over us.  I did manage to get the monument and the battle plan of Reno but that was about it before it started to rain. 

A Monument to the Battle

A Monument to the Battle

I think that the battlefield is haunted and it is always raining when I visit. What does that mean?

Our next stop was Billings where we stayed in the Dude Rancher Hotel.  I thought it would be good idea from the description online and have a western flare.  It was interesting.  Later it was on the TV show Hotel Impossible to get a revamp.  http://www.duderancherlodge.com/

I had really enjoyed my visit to the Western History Cultural Center in Billings on my first trip, so I wanted to stop and visit this archive. http://www.ywhc.org/

We arrived at the Western History Cultural Center about 11 a.m. and I figured we would put in two hours but we did about 2.5.  We had to park on the street and use quarters.  It was not like it had been 8 years ago and it was a little disappointing but I enjoyed what was there.  They had the lady photographer’s collection.  Alan had purchased a CD of her work so we have a selection of her photographs and can study them.  All black and white and she was doing this at the turn of the century and early 1896 to 1900’s.  Amazing dedication.  The Cheyenne Exhibit was sad but very interesting.  The oral histories that they have collected from the Indians is a good thing.  I guess you can access them.  The other exhibits were other oral histories of several musicians.  There were paintings and sketches as well.  They saved a sketch book of one of the Indians at one of the forts who had been shot with his sketch books with him and they are wonderful drawings, somewhat childlike but wonderful.

If you like Train Depot’s you might want to check out the one in Billings.  http://www.billingsdepot.org/  http://www.billingsdepot.org/history-depot/

We had to move on so we headed to Livingston arriving a the Train Depot with only fifteen minutes to view it.  The other museum was closing a 5 pm as well.  http://www.livingstonmuseums.org/depot/index.html  My timing on this trip was off a bit.

Livingston, MT

Livingston, MT

From Livingston we made it to Bozeman and found our Comfort Inn without too much trouble and settled in.  The next day was Friday so we had most of the day to dally and would later go to the wedding rehearsal picnic.

My goal was to find the gravesite of Armindo Spracklin the wife of Charles E. Spracklin a 1/2 brother of my great-grandmother Amarilla. The story is she wanted to be buried in the mountains so her son took her to Bozeman to live. This is what happened when we visited the cemetery, from my 2010 travel journal.

Armindo Spracklin's gravesite in Sunset Cemetery, Billings

Armindo Spracklin’s gravesite in Sunset Cemetery, Billings. Me standing about where it would be but no headstone.

We headed first to the Sunset Hills Memorial Park Cemetery and the office for the cemetery.  A nice man in work clothing was in the office and he helped located where Armindo Spracklin wife of Charles Edward Spracklin was buried.  He instructed me that we could follow him for it was a little difficult to find.  He drove thru the cemetery gates in his big truck that had dirt in the back and made his way through the cemetery.  This cemetery is huge so going to the office is a good idea. He came to an area in a shady part of the cemetery and tried to find the grave but there was no stone.  He finally decided it was next to this tree and this other person.  I was a little disappointed but not surprised for her husband’s marker was one of those metal tags. Find A Grave has a memorial and picture pretty much like mine for Armindo.

I wish I had money to do stones for family, maybe I can work something out, but I do have a long list.  Armindo made up a pedigree outline with the names and dates of our family history and I wanted to at least try to find her and pay my respects. I publish that on the Solomon Goss Blog with the title: Ancestor Outline by Armindo Spracklin, August 5, 2011.

Our next stop was the museum where I wanted to see if I could find any information on my great-uncle William Barclay, 1/2 brother to my George A. Barclay. http://gallatinhistorymuseum.org/  I write more:

The Gallatin County and Pioneer Museum which is right next door to the Gallatin County Courthouse.  We went inside and the museum was on the right and the archive center was on the left.  We paid the $5.00 admission fee.  I looked at books and then went into the archive area and was greeted by a nice lady but I was not allowed beyond a certain point.  I didn’t prepare myself for this type of archive and should have known better. 

Gallatin Historical Museum

Gallatin Historical Museum

I gave her William Barclay’s name and she brought me an obituary file but I didn’t find him listed.  I was thinking that if his wife had died in 1919 before him and his baby son had not survived he probably was going to be hard to find and the obituary I wanted would not be done.  She showed me on the map where Pony and Willow Creek were located south of Three Forks and we will go there tomorrow when we go to the Lewis and Clark Caverns.  She told me of a the Headwaters Heritage Museum in Three Forks and that they might have more local information.  He was a miner and poultry farmer in Pony, then Hot Springs and then Willow Creek were he died.  I tried online to see if I could find him in the cemeteries but he is not showing up.  So I will need obituary notices, family histories, cemetery information in the area when I get to the historical society. 

The lady told me that probate and deed indexes and information would be in the courthouse and I thought about going but decided I could call or email them for his probate if there was one.  He had some money and owned the farm in 1930 so he just might have given his inheritance to his brother or something like that? I then toured the museum which was on several floors and they had a chronology of the businesses in the area.  A flip chart of the different communities in the county like Willow Creek which I took a picture of.  Lots of information and artifacts.  A map of the trails to Montana and a little about them like the Bozeman Trail.  

When you travel with your hubby you do have to find activities they will enjoy.  He discovered that there was a Computer Museum in Bozeman.  http://www.compustory.com/

American Computer museum in Bozeman

American Computer museum in Bozeman

It is called the American Computer & Robotics Museum and it was on the south side of town at Kagy and 19th road in a group of buildings that looked like condominiums. We arrived with only about 30 minutes to view the museum and the nice docent gave us a quick tour around and then turned us loose to study the exhibits.  It was a great museum with awards for Computer Pioneering offered to many people.  They had the history of the telephone, TV, telegraph and all technologies that led up to the computer and cell phones. I teased them about a mag card typewriter and MTST which I used in my profession as a secretary.  Apparently they have a warehouse with a lot of stuff in it.  My hubby said they are the biggest computer museum in the country and very prestigious.  We didn’t have much time but at least we now know it exits and I highly recommend it to you. 

We were off to a picnic which was the rehearsal dinner where we gathered at a park in Bozeman.

Rehearsal Dinner picnie

Rehearsal Dinner picnic

Because I had enjoyed the Lewis and Clark Caverns so much I wanted my hubby to see them.  So, the next day, we headed up to the park. The wedding was later in the day. I wrote about this visit in my 2010 travel journal.

The Jefferson River Valley, Yup another river....

The Jefferson River Valley, Yup another river….

The scenery was spectacular.  We came to Three Forks about 40 minutes later and turned south on Highway 2 for the caverns.  It is a semi-circle from the west to the east. We were following the Jefferson River.  There is the Missouri Headwaters Park to the north of I-90 and it is where the Jefferson, Madison and the beginning of the Missouri River meet.  We would not have time to go to the park and see the rivers merge. 

The Sign

The Sign

The entrance to the caverns park has a new visitor center.  We stopped to see what was there. 

Visitor Center at the entrance

Visitor Center at the entrance

We then headed up to the visitor center at the top near the cavern opening.  I remember the climb up is about 2 miles with views of the Jefferson River valley.  We arrived and immediately went to see when the next tour was and we were in luck for it was about 9:45 and the next tour was 10 am. Our guide was young man and fun. He gave us the rules and we walked to the cavern entrance.  This took about 30 minutes to walk the path which is very steep.

The Ranger tells us the rules

The Ranger tells us the rules

At the entrance to the caverns our guide told us the story of the man who promoted the caverns. It turned out he did not have rights to it for it was railroad land and so that began a competition of locking the entrance door and cutting the locks between the man and the railroad company. This went on till his death in 1932 when the railroad gave the land to the State of Montana.  We had to be quiet the first couple of rooms so as not to scare the bats and no flash.  It was really hard to adjust to the lack of light in the caverns. 

We entered the caverns and the stairs going down were dark, but wide enough and there were hand railings in some areas.  The guide would walk us along through the caverns and then stop in a room and give an explanation of the specific room.  The was temperature was cool inside. We went down stairs, through tight tunnels and there were cave formations all around.  Some of the stairs were very steep and in one area we had to slide down on our butts. The formations were spectacular in each room and as we went along the rooms got bigger and bigger. The guide would turn off the lights behind us and turn on the lights ahead.  They had first used wooden steps and they rotted within 2 years and now it was cemented.  All work had been done by candlelight.  

The Caverns

The Caverns

The Caverns more

More views…

In one room the guide turned off the lights and it was so dark you could not see your hand before you. In the last room it had these huge formations. The very last part was a long tunnel with two doors to prevent the wind coming into the cave. 

We were done and it was out into the sunshine again and the wonderful view of the Jefferson River Valley.  We took our time getting back to the visitor center.  I decided to get a hot dog to help with keeping me happy. We headed back down in the car and stopped at a couple of vistas to take pictures. 

Jefferson River Valley

Jefferson River Valley

Before heading back to the motel, we took more time to do research on my great-uncle William Barclay, brother to George A. Barclay.  http://www.tfhistory.org/

Headwaters Museum

Headwaters Museum

We drove back the same way and turned onto a gravel road that took us to Willow Creek where William Barclay, half-brother to George, had homesteaded and died.  We then went on up the road to Three Forks where the Headwaters Heritage Museum was located.  We found it at Cedar and Main in an old bank building. There was a nice lady that greeted us and offered to have her son look for an obit on William Barclay so I gave her some information.  I doubt I will hear from them.  She did loan me the Three Rivers history book but he was not in that either.  The museum was wonderful with vignettes on the upper floor of a dentist office, military sets, trains and more. 

It was time to return to Bozeman and get ready for the wedding. Finding the location proved to be a challenge, because GPS was not working. It was set in a lovely forested area southwest of Bozeman.

The Wedding Venue

The Wedding Venue

The guests gathered out on a lovely grass field as the rain clouds began to gather. A little into the ceremony we started to hear the sounds of thunder.  We were stoic but finally the bride gave the word when the rain started to come down. Everyone made it back to the lodge area very quickly and gathered into the area that the tables were set up for the dinner.  The ceremony resumed as the rain came down outside.  It was a fun wedding and most everyone was there from my husband’s side of the family.

Guests gather

Guests gather

The next day, was our last day in Montana.  We decided to take in the Museum of the Rockies:  https://www.museumoftherockies.org/

We arrived at the Museum of the Rockies which is at the south side of Bozeman on Kagy and it was a lot bigger than I expected.  The parking lot was pretty much full.  In the lobby we found a line waiting for tickets. 

Museum of the Rockies

Museum of the Rockies

DSC06496

 

I wanted to see the dinosaurs and so we headed in that direction. We only had about 2 hours to tour the museum so we needed to move along quickly.  The dinosaur display was wonderful. 

DSC06495

Predators are the little guys

This museum states that T-Rex was a scavenger and not a predator. Scavengers are a more common animal, while predators are not.  I was not aware that they had done so much research since I was interested in Dinosaurs in my childhood. I didn’t realize that they have found dinosaur bones in 48 of the 56 counties.

They had an Indian exhibit, a western exhibit which had some really nice wagons but I could not take pictures. They also had the DaVinci Exhibit we had seen before. Pretty amazing. 

On this trip we had flown into Billings Logan International Airport. http://www.flybillings.com/

Rather than backtrack to Billings, we would fly out of the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is north of Bozeman.  http://www.bozemanairport.com/ I recommend that you go to an airport’s website because they have so much information on them and are truly helpful when you are planning a trip.

Here is what I wrote in my journal in 2010:

It was off to the airport which neither one of us believed was really there because we could not see it from the freeway. It was north of the town in Belgrade. It is a very small airport and there are not many flights out.  Again it was the propeller type airplane like the one we took to Billings. Everyone who had attended the wedding the day before was slowly trickling into this airport, so the wait was fun to have family around to visit with.

After getting our tickets and checking our luggage my hubby headed to the Hertz desk to check in the car. We had done 706 miles for this trip. We headed through security and they made me take my video camera out of the camera bag.  Our gate was about ten steps from the security gate. 

More of the family trickled in as we waited. It was decided that there were about thirteen people on our flight who had attended the wedding.  It was fun to hear them chatting away as we waited for the plane. When the time came to board the plane we walked down some stairs and then climbed into the airplane. The ride was a little bumpy but we arrived safely at SeaTac and were only about fifteen minutes late.  

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

Seattle's Downtown area

Seattle’s Downtown area

On this trip we visited with relatives from both sides of the family.  We attended a wedding.  Went to and walked through many museums of a great variety of topics. Took the time to enjoy the beautiful State of Montana.  I was able to learn about and view several rivers and did a little genealogy research regarding my great Uncle William Barclay. As you can see my trips are busy, filled with adventures and complicated.

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Traveling to Montana to meet Amos Spracklin’s family, a son of Reed and Julia Spracklin – 2003

About 2002, I received an email from a cousin and this individual suggested that I talk to another cousin who had done quite a bit of research on the Spracklin family back in the early and mid 1980’s. This cousin was my half cousin.  She was a descendant of the second family of Daniel D. Spracklin and his wife Sarah.  She lived in Miles City, Montana and I decided to go and visit her.

So in 2003, my sister and I, drove to Miles City in my 1995 Aerostar Van to visit our cousin. Neither one of us had met her before so it would be a great adventure.  We would stop at motels or hotels as we got close to the end of the day and use the coupons you get in those newspaper booklets they distribute at rest stops. Usually I book my motels and lodging in advance because I don’t want to mess with it while driving around.

As usual my genealogy research trips are very complicated and involve many facets.  On this trip it would be researching Spracklins, Mc/MacDonald’s, meeting family and visiting museums and various sites along the way.

We left Seattle about 11 am on Tuesday September 2nd and made it to Rathdrum, Idaho.  It takes about five hours to get to Spokane if you don’t stop at all the rest stops for coffee and cookies.

The view from Twin Lakes in Idaho.

The view from the cabin on Twin Lakes in Idaho.

We were going to meet up with a childhood family friend.  Mickey had lived with our Aunt Vivian, our father’s sister, when he was a boy. He was her nephew on her husband’s side and a member of the McKanna family.  He had a cabin near a lake just across the border from the Spokane area in Idaho and we were stopping there for the night.  We knew him when we were kids and he is part of my Mac/McDonald family memory and I wanted to see him and have him tell me more stories. I had reconnected with him several years earlier.  He had kindly loaned me a photo book that was formerly my Aunt Vivian’s, I had scanned all the photos and have used many of them in my posts on my blog: The Man Who Lived Airplanes.  McKanna’s actually came to Miles City and Mickey asked me to see if I could find out anything more about them.

The next day we headed further east and stopped at Wallace.  I was hoping to find out something about my great Uncle Angus McDonald so we stopped at the museum. I was trying to place him in the area but it was not going to happen.  Angus was my grandfather’s older brother.  http://wallace-id.com/  The Wallace District Mining Museum had city directories and there were McDonald’s listed but it was hard to tell if they were my McD’s.  http://wallaceminingmuseum.org/

We arrived in Missoula, Montana where we stopped for lunch.  We asked about the forest fires and decided to go a different route to stay as far away from them as possible.  We could see and smell the smoke.

Here is a little excerpt from an online paper about those fires.

By most measures, the fire season of 2003 was historic for Northwest Montana. Not since 1910 had there been such an array of wildfire in the region, not to mention the rest of the northern Rockies.

By mid-September there were 16 large fires in Northwest Montana that ended up covering more than 300,000 acres.

Individual fire acreages were impressive: the Robert Fire covered 57,570 acres, Wedge Canyon 53,325 acres, Little Salmon Complex 88,000 acres, Rampage Complex 24,488 acres, Blackfoot Lake Complex 29,836 acres and Middle Fork Complex 11,851 acres.

Combined, the 2003 fires accounted for roughly half the acreage burned on the Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park over the previous 20 years.

“The year 2003 will go down as a very historic fire year,” declared Steve Barrett, a fire ecologist who has studied long-term fire histories across Northwest Montana. – By Jim Mann Daily InterLake, December 27, 2009. http://www.dailyinterlake.com/members/a-monster-year-for-fires/article_e529a93c-f2a6-11de-8498-001cc4c03286.html

We left Bozeman around 8:30 am on Wednesday September 3rd.  We headed for the Lewis & Clark Cavern’s which was a very amazing experience.  This is what I wrote in my travel journal in 2003:  http://www.visitmt.com/listings/general/state-park/lewis-and-clark-caverns-state-park.html

Once inside the park we traveled a wiggly waggly road for about 4 miles before reaching the parking lot for the caverns.  We paid for our tickets and checked out the little gift shop at the café.  After a wait of about 30 minutes we started up the trail to the caverns.  It was hot and so the trail up was warm but pretty easy except for the steepness of the grade.  The vista was beautiful of the Jefferson River in the valley below.  We waited about 15 minutes at the cavern entrance before the guide came and started with guidelines to the caverns.  He was a young man who reminded me of friend but a bit shorter.  He was very nice and friendly and cracked silly jokes. I was not prepared for the caverns at all but was truly amazed at what we found.  It was a wonderous place and a world all its own. The stairs were tight to walk down in the dim light but I managed well.  There were stalagmites and stalactites and strange formations that only a cave can create from the action of the water dripping down.  Each area that we stopped in was unique and had its own eerie beauty.  Several of the areas were large caverns with these incredible formations that had taken millions of years to make.  Unfortunately damage had been done by guests of earlier years and you could see the ragged edges of the broken pieces that were left behind.  The cave was supposed to have bats but there were not very many at this time of the year.  It took the 2 hours that they said it would to view the caverns but it was well worth it especially the part that we had to get down on our butts and slide down a section of the trail.  There was a lot of ducking of the head and I banged mine several times.  The walk was mostly down and the steps took us to this cavern they called the Cavern of the Gods and it was like descending a long beautiful twisting spiral staircase. All great things come to an end and this little adventure found its own conclusion down a very long tunnel with two doors.  The doors were there to prevent a wind tunnel effect that would rush the air in and cause the caverns to dry out.  In 2010 I visited these caverns with my hubby.  He is tall so it was a challenge for him. 

Lewis & Clark Caverns

Lewis & Clark Caverns

The trail to the Caverns

The trail to the Caverns

The Caverns

The Caverns

Further along our trip we took in the The Western Heritage Center in Billings, Montana which had a wonderful exhibit about the history of Montana and provided me with a basic history of the area when Reed Spracklin migrated there.  We visited an old pioneer cemetery on Boot Hill and drove to the Pictograph Caves which are southeast of Billings. http://stateparks.mt.gov/pictograph-cave/.

Miles City Water Towers

Miles City Water Towers

Miles City is about two hours from Billings. We arrived in Miles City on Friday about 5 p.m. to be warmly greeted by Bertha at her trailer.  We spent the evening chatting and settling in.  We made cheese sandwiches to fill ourselves up.  I gave the research copies of research from my trip to Iowa and more to her and she spent some time reviewing them.  I spent a lot of the time at her kitchen table that week studying her research and learning about the Spracklin family and getting to know my cousin. She had done a lot of work and had gathered a lot of information by writing letters to family members and research archives seeking information about the family.  She was very generous with her research and shared all that I wanted.

Miles City

Miles City

During our stay we visited the Custer County Community Cemetery where various family members are buried including Amos and Iva Spracklin, Bertha’s parents.  This cemetery is in Miles City and Find A Grave has a listing for most of the cemetery.

Custer County Cemetery in Miles City

Custer County Cemetery in Miles City

We also visited the Range Rider Museum which is amazing.  They have newspapers in flip displays, display cabinets filled with artifacts, black and white photos of the Indians that are outstanding, photographs of the ranchers in the area who are placed on their wall of fame. http://www.rangeridersmuseum.com/.  The buildings outside house wagons, automobiles and more.

Wall of Fame Range Rider Museum

Wall of Fame Range Rider Museum

The Gathering Hall, Range Rider Museum

The Gathering Hall, Range Rider Museum

Unfortunately, Miles City’s genealogy society did not survive so you have to visit historical societies or go to museums like the Range Rider. We did visit the Miles City library where we did some obituary research. I did not go to the courthouse in Miles City another stop if you have ancestors there.  It was a busy visit so I had to pick and choose and my focus was the research that my cousin had done.

The Library in Miles City

The Library in Miles City

Several days later Bertha took us to her ranch, west of Jordan, Montana.  It was a two-hour drive from Miles City to Jordan and then about thirty minutes to the ranch.  As we drove along I realized that Bertha was the rancher. She was raised in Montana and became her father’s right hand man. Amos and Iva’s children were all were girls. Amos of course, had wanted a son to help him with the ranch but it didn’t happen.  So Bertha took on that role. She knew everything about the ranches along the highway and chatted away telling us the history of the area and story of the families that lived there.  She knew about barbed wire and what each type was for and she could recognize individual cattle something her father had trouble with.

Jordan, Montana in the rain

Jordan, Montana in the rain

We arrived in Jordan the county seat of Garfield County.  They have a the Garfield County Museum which we visited briefly.

The ranch is not too far from Jordan.  You go west for about 20-30 minutes…

The Ranch near Jordan

The Ranch near Jordan

We approached a fork in the road and she mentioned the 1996 FBI standoff with the Montana Freemen that was located 20 miles up the road from the fork.  The left fork in the road was the road to Bertha’s ranch.  She said that we needed to go over several cattle guards before we got there and I think she said it was about 5 miles from the fork in the road.  As we drove along she pointed out where her land was describing it to us and telling us she had 4850 acres all paid for.  The road had become gravel a while back. 

We passed a big pile of wood on the right and on the left were metal buildings that were the barn and corral.  The house was up on a slight hill.  Cars, trucks and other buildings were scattered about the land.  We climbed out of the van.  Bear, Bertha’s small white poodle, jumped out and was running around checking out the area and leaving his calling card.  There was a beautiful Border Collie named Hey who was on a chain and he turned out to be a very friendly and a gentle dog.  He was the black and white typical of that breed but his eyes were like a wolf’s.  We entered the ranch house by way of the basement door.  Ahead of us was a wooden staircase that lead up to the main floor of the double wide mobile home that Bertha had installed on a cement foundation.  I later noticed the metal strip and the bolts along the lower part of the mobile home.   The other thing that I first saw was the head of an antelope on the basement wall. 

We headed for the stairs to the main floor of the house.  We turned a corner and found the son in the kitchen preparing dinner.  He was standing over a large pan of sliced potatoes.  I found myself wandering out to the deck area that had a vista of the land around the ranch.  I wasn’t sure of the deck area but it seemed sturdy. The view took in the barn area and the land that stretched out before me.  The wind was hot on my face and was blowing bits of dirt about.  There were buttes in the distance and cattle out on the land grazing.  There was much talk about wayward buffalo coming onto the land.  

Dinner was served and the barbecued ribs just melted off their bones.  They were delicious.  The potatoes were also good and I ate two helpings.  Everyone was gathered around the two tables in the kitchen area. Everyone ate heartily.  

We then went on a tour of the ranch again, from my travel journal in 2003:

The Ranch

The Ranch from the house

Bertha and son took us on a tour of the ranch showing the house that she grew up in.  It was in a sad state of deterioration.  It was also filled with farm things.  The floor was rotting out and the ceiling was coming down. There were old torn and tattered pieces of furniture scattered and piled about.  There was a stove or two.  There were even jackets still hanging on hooks by the door.  The house had only three rooms in the beginning but was later expanded to include the kitchen area.  Amos and Iva slept in the bedroom on the first floor while kids slept upstairs.  Behind the old farmhouse was the shed that was used for several tasks.  The right end was for the chickens and the left end was used for the milking cows.  The backside was used as the granary.  It was showing its age and they were planning to tear it down.  There were at least three round tower like structures now used for grain.  They were better and easier to use.  We then made our way down to the barn area and we walked around there.  Bertha talked about repairs and rotted posts and what needed to be done to fix things up.  They explained how the gates worked and walked us through the barn, pointing out their saddles and showing us the initials on the stalls for the horses.  You had to walk carefully because there were cow piles all about and even a carcass of an antelope left to rot.  I may not know much about ranching but it seemed to me to be a never-ending task. 

Amos, his homestead

Amos, his homestead, now owned my Bertha

The Lights of Jordan — I mean Jordan in Montana from my 2003 travel journal:

The evening was not yet over and the major event of the night was about to take place.  Bertha wanted us to see the lights of Jordan from a bluff on her land.  So just before dusk we all piled into her son’s big black truck.  I had to climb up and in.  We started out the gate of the ranch past the barn area and onto the gravel road crossing it towards the south.  We picked up speed and so far things seems pretty okay and I would say he went about 4 miles then he make a sharp turn to the left off the road and we were as it is called “bushwhacking.”  We bumped along over sagebrush with bunnies hopping frantically out-of-the-way.  Bertha and her son discussed the route up the hill in their usual feisty way.  He reminded her he knew the way as good as she did.  I probably will never know how he knew the way in the dark but they both seemed to know exactly where they were and where every bump and creek bed was.  I actually did pretty good although I was tossed around quite a bit. Just when I thought he was going to go over a big cliff and he stopped the truck and turned off the motor and pointed to the lights of Jordan in the distance.  Then Bertha pointed to the house lights of the ranch. The son remembered and said that he used to come up to this hill with his Dad (Jim) and sit and look out for fires till 2 a.m. in the morning.  Lighting was playing out its game to the right of us and sending strikes out but so far no rain.  Within about 10 minutes or a little more he started the engine and proceeded to go straight ahead. The cliff that loomed before us was not as bad as I had thought but we did go pretty straight down for a bit.  The drive back to the gravel road was a little less wild and bumpy and we actually seemed to get back to the road faster. As we drove along Bertha was pointing out deer and we couldn’t see anything. So the truck abruptly stopped by a big piece of farm equipment and out came a spotlight.  They held up the spotlight and we then started to see lots of animals.  First you see their eyes flashing in the dark and then you can make out there form. We were told that you can tell the type of animal by the color of their eyes.  We saw lots of deer, the most I have ever seen in my life.  It was great. We made it back to the house in one piece and I headed for bed.  It was very hot. 

On the way back from the ranch, the next day, we stopped at the Pioneer Cemetery in Jordan where Reed and Julia Spracklin are buried along with other family members.

Pioneer Cemetery

Pioneer Cemetery

Pioneer Cemetery Overview, Jordan, MT

Pioneer Cemetery Overview, Jordan, MT

We stayed in Miles City for about a week and then headed out.  Our goal was to visit Yellowstone but we were going to do that in a little different way by viewing the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Park and then driving to Sheridan and across the Bighorn Mountains to Cody and from Cody to Yellowstone.

Big Horn Battlefield, tombstone

Big Horn Battlefield, tombstone

The Lecture by the Ranger at the Big Horn Battlefield

The Lecture by the Ranger at the Big Horn Battlefield

I drove to the battlefield.  It was raining and the wind was blowing so the weather was not really great. We almost missed the battlefield because we got on the wrong road.  We found the Crow Wing Agency sign and we doubled back and headed to the East until we caught up with the main road and it was just a little farther to go. 

The wind was really cold at the Little Bighorn Battlefield.  We arrived at around 3 pm.  It took a lot longer than I anticipated to get there. We were able to attend a lecture by the ranger about the battle even though the wind was cold and the big nasty rain cloud threatened above.  I was listening to the ranger talk but became quiet fascinated with the mud on his boots which was caking up and then falling off as he worked his way closer to the shelter as the rain came down on him.  http://www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm

Custer’s last stand was definitely a broader and larger military maneuver than I had imagined. The events took place over a very big area stretching to the Wolf Mountains to the south.  Custer’s part of the battle took place in a small area close to the visitor’s center.  To see the rest of the battlefield we had to drive a road for about 3-5 miles.  The formal cemetery was near the visitor center. They said that the Indian village stretched two miles in the valley below.  That must have been a site to see.  The Little Bighorn River Valley was beautiful to look down on from the hills where most of the fighting took place.  Apparently this is the only battlefield that has tombstone markers scattered about the fields.  The men were buried where they fell. 

After our visit to the park, we headed to Sheridan in Wyoming.  There were very ominous clouds in the distance but we made it before they dumped on us. We started up the highway to the Bighorns but decided it was getting too dark and we better find a place to stay.  Sheridan was not far and found this wonderful old style hotel with creaky floors and a big steep staircase.  The hotel room was lovely and old-fashioned making you think of bygone days. Spracklins lived in Sheridan, they are the descendants of Peter Spracklin a brother to our second great-grandfather Daniel D. Spracklin.  So it was good to see the town.  I didn’t have time to do any research there.  If you want to know more about Peter and his family go to the blog Solomon Goss in Fearing Twp. for information.

After breakfast we made our way to the highway that takes you over the Bighorn Mountains.  I am a big fan of Longmire having read the novels and watched the TV show. So when the show came on I was remembering the area. Absaroka County does not exist, but it is in the area on the west side of the Bighorns.  The show is actually filmed in Arizona.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1836037/

Burgess Station Big Horn Mountains

Burgess Station Big Horn Mountains

Free Range Cattle

Free Range Cattle

Leaving the Bighorns

Leaving the Big Horn Mountains

The next morning after breakfast and gas for the car, we set out for the Bighorn Mountains. What an experience.  The road winded up the side of the foothills going steeper and twisting around the sides of the hills.  You could look ahead and see the road winding up the side of the mountain and could look back and see the valley below and get an incredible vista.  The height of the passes in the Bighorns were 9000+ feet and we climbed and climbed up to a wonderland of trees and ground lightly laced with snow. The road itself was clear but the hills were snowy.  Cattle are allowed to roam freely so we came upon some migrating down to better pastures.  I will never forget the one white cattle that came at the car with such determination and with its power.  I have never been in direct line of  a large animal so it was cool to see it move toward us.  They moved off the road toward the trees in order to avoid the car. There were about 20 coming down the road.  They may have been domesticated animals but they were a site to see in this high mountain area.  We came upon more of them along the road and had to stop, I believe one more times. 

Arriving at the visitor center and we got out of the car.  It was cool and crisp. The quiet and the stillness were almost soft.  It was beautiful. We spent some time in the visitor center reading the exhibits.  http://www.bighornmountains.com/  I bought a Smokey Bear doll as a memento he was very special to me when I was a kid. 

As you get to the western side of the road you start going down and the scenery gets more barren and rocky. We chose to go the Shell Canyon route and that took us through some real magnificent geological formations of rock that had pushed up from the earth’s core.  They looked like someone had laid then on their side.

We came off the Bighorn Mountains onto the Bighorn Plateau where the road took us to Cody, Wyoming.  It took about 50-60 miles to traverse this big fertile plain which was rather flat, barren and straight.  After awhile my sister, who was driving, became restless and wanted a curve in the road.  As we approached the foothills to the Rockies we started to see more step formations.  Cody lies at the base of these foothills before you head to Yellowstone. 

We stopped in Cody and had some dinner and found a place to stay.

The Buffalo Bill Museum

The Buffalo Bill Museum

Apparently Buffalo Bill Cody founded the town of Cody and lived near it.  The Buffalo Bill Museum is actually 4-5 museums.  We spent time in the Plains Indian’s Exhibit.  I took quick tours of the other exhibits and almost lost my sister in the first. http://centerofthewest.org/explore/buffalo-bill/

We had rented a cabin in Yellowstone near the main lodge so we needed to get there by Sunday night.

I had not been to Yellowstone since the mid 1950’s when we went their with our parents.  I didn’t remember much except Old Faithful and the bears.  There was one that my dad named Professor. He was a little black bear who was able to walk around the rim of the garbage cans.  My mother and I sat in the car, our food was up in the tree on a rope. This type of behavior in bears is now discouraged for their safety as well as the visitors. I was about seven years old at that time.  We also drove down to the Grand Tetons and I do remember them.

One of many signs for the Continental Divide

One of many signs for the Continental Divide

The Yellowstone Sign on the eastern side of the park, Hwy 14 west of Cody

The Yellowstone Sign on the eastern side of the park, Hwy 14 west of Cody

We found our cabin behind the main lodge and settled in.  I called my hubby to check in and a coyote ran by as I was talking to him.  http://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Yellowstone Lodge

Yellowstone Lodge

While we were at Yellowstone we participated in several Buffalo Jams. A Buffalo Jam is where the buffalo get on the highway and you have to stop and wait.

A Buffalo Jam

A Buffalo Jam one of several…

It  was rutting season so the males were being distracted and butting heads. They made this guttural puffing sound.

Bison fighting

Bison fighting

We saw a coyote eating a wolf kill.  He was very cautious because the wolves would kill him if they found him.

A Coyote at a Wolf Kill

A Coyote at a Wolf Kill

There was elk and one male was herding his females across the river.

Male Elk herding his females

Male Elk herding his females

I did remember the lake for it was big:

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone has abundant geysers and we explored.  Unfortunately I did not keep careful records of where we went, so I have pretty geyser pictures but I am not sure what geyser areas we were at.  You can walk out over some of the areas to get close up on these board walks.

There are boardwalks you can travel on to get closer

There are board walks you can travel on to get closer

One of many geisers

One of many geysers

There is a lot of texture in the geysers, steam, heat and the smell of sulfur.

Lots of Texture at the geisers...and steam

Lots of Texture, steam and heat.

The pools are many and beautiful…

The many pools with steam are beautiful...

The many pools with steam are beautiful…some a very blue

I did remember the mud pots because I thought they were funny back when I was a kid. The sound was gulp gulp. Trying to get a picture of them erupting is very difficult, this took a bit of time.

Mudpots...

Mud pots exploding

Of course you cannot miss old Faithful which I do remember from my childhood visit.  This time I got to sit on the veranda of the lodge with a nice glass of wine to watch the spectacle.

Old Faithful 2003

Old Faithful 2003

MoreOldFaithful

We headed back to Seattle a couple of days later and just made the drive from Yellowstone to home.  It was a good trip. I was pleased. The trip was about 2427 miles with little excursions here and there.  My Aerostar Van did great.  This might be my longest car trip for it beats Ontario.

MAKE A JOURNAL OF YOUR TRAVELS, a little advice…

About 2003 I started to journal my trips, both genealogical and vacation, because I realized that I was forgetting.  A journal of our trip to Yellowstone in the mid 50’s would be amazing to have now.  Some of the trips I had taken required me to backtrack and recreate what happened.  Currently, I journal at night before going to bed each day of the trip.  It is still fresh in my mind.  I learned this from our cousin Paul Goss who did a lot of research on the Goss family in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s.  He traveled to many places and met relatives and interviewed them about the Goss family but he didn’t realize that his trips were actually sources and important, especially when he talked to family and got their stories.  Going back to my early years I wish I had journals of those trips, not to mention photographs.  It is difficult for me to remember when and where we went on all the camping trips with my parents.

I would like to encourage you to journal your trips or at least write out an outline of the days events.  You would want to put in your journal the following. Here are a few suggestions and don’t forget to take pictures.

  1.  What you saw that day like a bridge that was really cool, a valley view, a river, what towns you passed through a picture of the sign announcing the town. A town’s water tower. A museum, library or archive you visited. A ferry you took. I wrote in my Ontario journal that I was in Paris, Paris in Ontario.  I also drove across the Thames river several times.  The Thames is a river in Ontario that flows through London, Ontario.  What road were you on, what was the weather like. My trip from London to Strathroy in Ontario it was pouring rain and getting into my hotel was a big experience.  I was driving in western Ontario and there were these amazing windmills coming out of the ground.  The only thing I didn’t do was get a good picture.
  2. When driving you can get lost and that can be an interesting experience.  Or there is a really scary part of the road like the round about in Montreal that I barely made it through.
  3. Where you stayed.  I have had some really interesting experiences at motels.  The one I stayed in Hartford, CT the first time was really bad so the second time through I found a better place south of that city in a lovely B&B. One man had a toupee on and I noticed this as he was checking me in. What was the place like?  I like Bed and Breakfasts and they can be really beautiful or it is a beautiful old hotel.
  4.  What you ate and where you ate it.  Yes, really, so if you go back you can find that same restaurant especially if you liked it.  We did this in Hawaii and I did this in Ontario.
  5. Who you met both family and people you encounter.  At Niagara Falls my waitress at the restaurant overlooking the falls was very knowledgeable and we chatted about the falls.  She told me many interesting things.  I spent a lot of great time visiting with cousins and close cousins and I tried to write out what was talked about.  Now, not all encounters a great and I write about them in my journal.
  6. I have several large binders with my trip itineraries, journals, maps and memorabilia and I frequently refer to them.  My Aunt Miriam went to Russia with my mother. She did a journal but there was no mention of my mom or other people, just the facts.  She did mention me taking them to the airport.  What I would give to get her impressions of the people she interacted with.
  7. Yes, I post my travels online with photos.  I also journal my trip in a Word.doc which allows me to write a more personal version.  They are all saved on my G drive under Genealogy trips Vol. I, Vacation Vol. II in my binders.

What I have written above is a short version of the actual trip to Montana in 2003 and this particular trip I did not post online because I didn’t start blogging till about 2010.